How to install electrical cables in stud walls

Written by beau keyes
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How to install electrical cables in stud walls
Install extra sockets in your home. (Scott Latham/iStock/Getty Images)

To place power outlets in a wall, it is first necessary to plan how many outlets are needed so that you can get an idea of their required location. A good rule of thumb is one outlet for every 1.8 m (6 feet) of wall space. When planning the wiring, consider whether you must have a new line run from the main electrical box by a qualified electrician before running the new cable.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Marker or pencil
  • Plastic outlet boxes
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • 3/4-inch diameter drill bit
  • Hammer
  • Electrical cable
  • Wire stripper
  • Screwdriver
  • Electrical tape

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  1. 1

    Mark the electrical sockets' locations with a marker or pencil. Position the plastic outlet box alongside the stud where you want it and draw lines above and below to signify the location of the box.

  2. 2

    Measure 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the height marked for the electrical boxes on the studs. Make a mark at the centre of the 10 cm (4 inch) face of each stud the cable needs to run through. This allows you to drill a path through each stud leading to the electrical boxes.

  3. 3

    Drill holes through each stud, using a 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) drill bit. Begin by drilling a hole in the floor or ceiling plate to allow you to feed the main electrical line through to the wall. Begin drilling the remaining studs in the line until all holes are complete

  4. 4

    Position the outlet boxes against the studs to mount them. Most boxes have nails already integrated into them, so all you need to do is hold it in place and hammer it onto the stud. Place all outlet boxes at the same time.

  5. 5

    Feed the main electrical cable into the wall, through the first stud holes and into the first outlet box. Run another piece of cable, starting inside that electrical box, and thread the remainder through the stud holes to the next box and insert the end there. Do the same thing with any other outlets in the wall.

  6. 6

    Strip the insulation from the main electrical feed cable with a wire stripper and connect it to one side of the first outlet. Loosen the two terminals with a screwdriver and attach the black wire to the copper terminal and the white to the silver. Tighten the terminals back down to secure the wire. Strip the insulation from the second piece of cable to expose the wires and connect them to the other side of the outlet. Wrap electrical tape around the entire outside edge of the outlet to cover the terminals and bare wire. Do this for all outlets, and use a screwdriver to attach the outlet to the boxes anchored to the wall.

  7. 7

    Connect the main electrical cable to your circuit box. If there are more than three outlets planned for the wall, consider giving the line its own circuit in the main power box. Turn on the power to the new electrical cables and test each receptacle to make sure there is power.

Tips and warnings

  • Check with local building codes before running new electrical cable to be sure that you are installing it according to proper code.
  • Use caution when drilling through the studs that you aren't holding the stud to brace it and drill into your hand or body at the same time.
  • Wear eye protection when drilling the holes.
  • If unsure, have a certified electrician connect the new wall line to the main electrical circuit box.

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